Jose Mourinho insisted it was "no drama" for Chelsea to finish third and spoke of his conviction that they will be challenging for the title next season provided the club make a couple of significant signings in the summer, with a world-class striker top of his wish list.
The Chelsea manager acknowledged Manchester City deserved to be champions but also mentioned, over and over again, the recent defeats against Aston Villa and Sunderland that effectively cost his team a place at the top of the table and, in both cases, were laced with refereeing complaints.
Asked whether he was hurt to finish third, Mourinho said: "No, because it is part of the process. One thing is to play clearly to win the title. Another is to be in a transition phase. It was an easier job for me to get a team ready to win and I promise you I had chances to do that not just in this country but others.
"My decision was this and I am happy with that. It is part of a process in a dangerous league where you can finish fifth and be out of the Champions League. Third is not a drama, it is a position you have to accept in this transitional period.
"Next season, if we do our work in a successful way in the summer market, which I know the club is trying to do everything to make that a successful period for us, then if we do that I want to start day one saying we are going to fight for the title.
"We don't need a new spine, a new structure. It is there. The fundamental for us now is a couple of players of a certain level to help the team immediately go to a different level."
It was put to Mourinho that third place and failing to win a trophy would have been a drama for a Chelsea manager in the past and may well have resulted in the sack. "Maybe that happens tomorrow but that's not what I was promised or what we spoke about when we sat and discussed the period Chelsea was living," Mourinho said, referring to his talks with Roman Abramovich, the club's owner, last summer.
"We are not asking for eight, nine or 10 years to achieve success. But you can't just click your fingers and success arrives. This season it almost happened."
Chelsea ultimately came up four points short, after ending their campaign with this narrow but deserved victory against a Cardiff side who were already relegated.
Craig Bellamy, on what may well have been his last appearance for Cardiff, put the home team ahead with a 25-yard shot that took a huge deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta, but André Schürrle came off the bench to volley Chelsea level and set up the winner for Fernando Torres three minutes later.
"I know where I want to go," said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Cardiff manager, who had a three-hour meeting with Vincent Tan, the club's owner, on Saturday to discuss next season, which will be in the Championship, not the Premier League. "It's important he trusts me to take it forward."
Man of the match André Schürrle (Chelsea)